Zao -


About Zao

Greensburg, Pennsylvania isn't known for many things besides being in close proximity to the mall where George A. Romero filmed "Dawn Of The Dead." And the renegade spirit, commentary on the world around us, and personal introspection that drives the bespectacled filmmaker lives and breathes within Zao, a band whose backwoods roots have allowed them to stay one step ahead of the trends by staying true to their isolated selves.

Zao's original incarnation formed in the mid-90s with the evangelical zeal of Focused, the fervor of Earth Crisis and the image of vintage rockabilly. When that version of the band fell apart shortly after the 1997 Cornerstone Festival, Zao as it would come to change the course of heavy music was born in the fires of creative tension.


"Where Blood & Fire Bring Rest" (1998) took the conventions of hardcore and heavy metal and turned them upside down. Thunderous, epic, and full of passion, the album was driven by vocals that exorcised singer Daniel Weyandt's demons as if his life depended on the songs. His words reshaped a personal history wrought with tragedy, suicide and death into beautiful musings that connected with their brutal honesty and naked self-observation.

Zao's "Self-Titled" (2001) was recorded by only Dan, Scott and Jesse and featured a vast amount of experimentation with electronics, dark soundscapes, and melodic interludes. "A Tool To Scream" and the lovelorn letter that is "Five Year Winter" eclipsed all they had done before, while "At Zero" is the kind of devastating album closer that brings to mind Metallica's "Dyer's Eve" or "Damage Inc."

Blood & Fire did not bring rest in this case, however, and soon Dan, Scott and Jesse returned to producer Barry Poytner's Arkansas studio and created "Parade Of Chaos" (2002) which pushed their musical envelope even further. "The Buzzing" and "Suspend/ Suspension" opened the album with alarming force while "Free The Three" and "How Are The Weak Free" were well-suited for long drives down desolate roads.


With their album "The Funeral Of God" (2004) the band got their first airplay on MTV2 and Fuse as well as major accolades in the metal press. Yes, at last, recognition! And finally, like their heroes Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, people started to realize that the kind of art Zao makes is not easily classifiable as Christian or secular... It's just good.

"Physician Heal Thyself," "American Sheets On The Deathbed," "A Last Time For Everything" and "My Love, My Love We've Come Back From The Dead" are just a handful of the newly energized songs the band released on their album "The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here" (2006).


Zao returned in 2009 with their ninth studio album. Titled "Awake?", the album includes 11 tracks (one of which is a remake of beloved B-side “Romance of the Southern Spirit”) and was produced by As I Lay Dying’s Tim Lambesis.

ZAO has been one of those bands, remaining neither lyrically stagnant nor allowing themselves to be defined by a genre or scene that forces bands that play aggressive music to conform or be choked out by some pseudo-macho metal mentality.

In a post on their MySpace blog, the band expressed how thrilled they are with the quality of the new material, stating, “We can't wait for you guys to hear this album! We are very proud of it and in our humble opinions, it is very reminiscent of what you have come to know and love about Zao over the years. Every band likes to say "this new album is our best yet" so we won't say that to you. We know that albums like Blood & Fire and Liberate will always be fan favorites, and they are special to us as well. But with that being said, believe us when we say that we strongly feel Awake?" is a more than worthy addition to our catalog.”

Only a handful of bands have left a mark on the underground scene as vital, as potent and as completely authentic as Zao. Their heartbroken yet desperately optimistic vision, one that could only have been shaped deep in the inner entrails of the American Northeast, is delivered with all of the subtlety of a massive head trauma, the complexity of the human eye and the passion of a poet's soul.